Is Joel Osteen living his worst life now?

HOUSTON – Joel Osteen leads 44,000 people (per their own claims) at Lakewood Church, but when he is in the public spotlight his lukewarm and tepid response to moral issues leave millions scratching their heads about him. The question: is Joel just a figure head pastor? Is someone else writing his sermons and messages? Its sad and tragic that a person with such influence lacks the spiritual authority to speak truth and stand by it without apology.

The super pastor’s recent appearance on a CNN talk show caused people on both sides of the issue of homosexuality to criticize him. Osteen appears to not want to anger anyone, so he attempts to soften the truth after he’s spoken it. But that makes him sound unconvincing on either. Jesus warned against lukewarm positions when it came to the truth.

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

And does the rest of the passage describe America’s largest and richest local church?

Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. Rev 3:15-18

The Christian Post reported that while homosexual activist leaders derided his words as “dangerous and irresponsible”, Rev. Albert Mohler stopped short of praising him. Clearly, Osteen seemed to only add more confusion to the issue.

LGBT group the Human Rights Campaign called for an immediate apology, arguing that his statement “adds a burden to those already struggling to accept their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

“One would hope Mr. Osteen would use his pulpit, with an audience of over 7 million people, to tell all human beings that they are loved just the way they are,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “Instead he chose to send a dangerous and irresponsible message.”

Evangelical leader R. Albert Mohler, Jr., who does not agree with Osteen’s “updated version of prosperity theology,” was glad to hear the renowned pastor – who reaches 10 million television viewers nationwide – affirm the Bible’s teaching. But Mohler stopped short of praising Osteen.

“Thankfully, he did not deny that homosexuality is a sin. We can only have hoped that he would have given a more bold answer, followed by an equal boldness in the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., said in a commentary Thursday.

Although he has been “pastoring” some fourteen years now, Osteen seems no closer to principled stands than he was when first questioned about the issue.

Osteen further embarrassed himself, the faith and our God with his waffling on The View. He was asked about false bishop Jim Swilley and whether or not Swilley should be in church leadership if he is homosexual. Conversation transcript:

Barbara Walters: “Recently a pastor of an evangelical church in Georgia named Jim Swilley came out and said that he was gay.  He is married, he has children, but he is gay. What’s your feelings about that?“  Osteen: “Well, first off Barbara, I should finish that sentence.  I should make it clear.  I don’t think it’s God’s best for your life.  I don’t NOT think it’s God’s best making us.  As far as that pastor is concerned, I don’t know that individual situation.  I think that, I believe the Scriptures teach us that a pastor in leadership like that is not going to stay in a Christian church like ours.“  Walters: “Should he get out of the Christian church if he is gay?“  Osteen: “ You know, I think that’s totally up to him.”

GCM Watch has covered his nervous struggle with proclaiming homosexuality as sin and dealing with homosexuals who obviously seek to influence him.

  • Speaking at a 2009 rally in New York,  Osteen told devotees: “My message is not about doctrine. I don’t have to get 50 references from Scripture in a sermon for it to be a good sermon. I want to be careful not to criticize anybody or be negative. I feel like I don’t need to preach. I just want to talk to the people.” [article]
  • Earlier in April of 09,  Osteen responded to Larry King’s questions about homosexual marriage: “You know, I don’t know where it’s all going … I’d love to see it stay between a male and a female, not knocking anybody else.” King: Should a gay couple be allowed to adopt? Joel Osteen: “I think that, again, it’s best for a male and a female. I’m not saying that gay people aren’t good people” [article] Benny Hinn even angrily denounced him.
  • In May 2008, on Mother’s Day, Soulforce flunkie Jay Baker discovered that if he got into visitors line to shake Joel Osteen’s hand he could make a pitch for a meeting with Osteen. The bad news is that Osteen agreed to a meeting with Baker.   In the meeting was Osteen,  brother Paul and media spokesman Donald Iloff. [article]

34 thoughts on “Is Joel Osteen living his worst life now?

  1. Thank you Jesus for this article! My bottom jaw never closed while watching this interview, and I was so ashamed and angry for Joel being a wimp. You can’t approach the devil with a “I don’t want any trouble” mentality. I read just about every article on the internet I could find to see if anyone felt the way I did about Joel Osteen’s cowardice, but alas, all I found were articles saying he was too harsh on homosexuals?


    It was almost as if he was apologizing for the Bible and for GOD’s Word and standard. Makes me so disappointed. But I am not shocked too much by Osteen, because as you pointed out, we have seen this from him before. He apologizes for the Bible more than Obama apologizes for the U.S.

    “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels…” (Mark 8:38)

    “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

    And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables…”(2 Timothy 4:3-4)

    Excellent article!

  2. Let’s not forget–if you were able to put every televangelist in this country on the spot in front of a national television audience like CNN or Fox News and asked them point blank whether they were against, and condemned homosexuality, you would find very,very few that would have the courage to come out strongly against it. They’d dance around the subject just like Joel did. No one would want to bring down the kind of criticism and heat that telling the truth about homosexuality will bring you in this day and age. Sure, these characters will talk “tough” in front of their congregations but anything that ultimately has the potential to effect $$’s will not be confronted by the televangelists. People who profess to be Christian need to wake up and turn away from these fat cats who make their living “preaching the Gospel” over the arwaves and start supporting their local Bible believing churches. Some of these T.V. may preach the truth, BUT, do an online search and you’ll see they all live like kings and queens.It’s shameful!

  3. In the past I have had some issues with televangelists for not forcibly calling out sin but as I grow in the LOrd and become more Christlike. I am now more able to empathize. The media often times operates to discredit Christians and ministers of the gospel. In no way can a man of GOD answer the question is homosexuality a sin in the time allotted by most media outlets. They are looking for sound bites thus making it an impossible question to answer in a 30 second span. Questions like that are nothing more than ways to make christians look prejudice or unbiblical. Answers to questions like that most be done in a way that can affirm the word of GOD and His love for all. The media (Interviews) is not a forum for that.

  4. Samson, lets take out homosexuality and put any other sin in its place – murder, adultery, fornication, lying, stealing, would it make a difference?

    He can answer in love but he is not expressing the Love of God at this point he just needs to answer the question he was asked soundly and whatever happens so be it. Saying what the scripture says only seems unloving to those it offends.

  5. Friend Samson,

    I agree w/you in the aspect of venues and forums certain things can’t be addressed in the time alloted, but to call a sin a sin is something different, how much time is needed for that, your either for it or against it. And yes the wordly media is always looking for the opportunity to discredit the christian community and yes sometimes we give them the ammunition for it, when we act unwisely “Be as wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove.” But to totally ignore or dance around direct questions which they pose to us, and know wholeheartedly were against shows evasiveness, which they are looking for, and attack subtely (sometimes) and quickly. But we must answer these questions directly, wisely and not passively (which is open to attack). The more Pastor Olsteen appears on the media the more exposed he becomes, and this can actually be a tool of the Lord to either expose him to rethink himself and/or show those who follow him, why are they following him. Paul tells us that many would get caught up in itchy ear messages, because they want it so.

  6. @ Tony Davis.

    I agree with much of what your saying. In fact you were able better articulate much of what i was saying. While I dont have a problem with calling out sin. My problem is the fact that they arent allowed to present biblical evidence as to why sin is sin. While I dont agree with a person being evasive in regards to sin I just dont think you can tell a person *unbeliever” that something is sin without explaining to them why. And such forums do not allow time for proper teaching. They seem to be of a venue to make the church look prejudice.

    @ Paul

    Soundly is the key. Can one who truly has a heart for lost souls answer questions like that in 30 seconds and truly articulate the message of the scripture. I dont believe so. Questions pertaining to sin especially those that are so intrinsic in the culture like sexual sins need be explained thoroughly i.e bible study etc. Just telling someone that something is a sin doesnt make them believe its sin, and believing something is sinful doesnt stop you from doing it or wanting to do it. They are many layers to answering questions like this and i dont think it can be done in sound bites.

  7. samson:

    The church is supposed to be prejudiced against sin. We are also supposed to be prejudiced against sinners, because we are not supposed to fellowship with them. The modern notions of equality, civil rights, human rights, equal treatment etc. are not found in the Bible. Instead, they are attempts to subvert, usurp and replace Biblical knowledge and revelation with sinful, rebellious, proud lascivious human thinking.

    According to the thinking of the world, Christians are and must be bigots (as the world defines bigots). The sooner we embrace that fact, the better off we will be.

  8. “We are also supposed to be prejudiced against sinners, because we are not supposed to fellowship with them”

    Tell me you didn’t REALLY mean what you typed Job. I understand being prejudiced against the sin, but being prejudiced against the sinner (PEOPLE)? seriously?? How does not fellowshipping with them equate to prejudice??

    (prejudice – an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason.
    Unreasonable feelings, opinions, or attitudes, esp. of a hostile nature, regarding a racial, religious, or national group.)

    we have stooped to an ALL time low in legalism.


    @DL…for the integrity of your blog, you should probably remove that statement.


  9. Friend Samson,

    During Pastor Olsteen’s first interview w/Larry King, he was asked whether or not directly if Christ was the only way to salvation, and he was alloted time to answer these question, and w/the alloted time he still proved passive, evasive, and unwillingly to answer a question that should’ve been answered in seconds without hesitation. But his evasiveness and unwillingness in order to avoid confrontation was so apparent that he issued an apology to the christian community for his lack of directness and willingness. I’ve always believed he is not a pastor, but a motivational speaker, and because he is so passive and evasive in his attempts to avoid confrontation, it is no wonder he has the largest congregation in the country, for where sin is not raised, many will flock there, because they don’t have to be convicted of anything and no light shined on the darkness that sometimes remains in all of us.

  10. I think the point Samson is making is:
    What if Piers had asked Osteen whether covetousness was a sin. Yes, he can answer as he did for homosexuality that it is a sin – but this does not explain to anyone what the social implication of calling someting a sin is. Does it mean enacting laws against material desire? Does it mean condemning people in your own congregation? Does it drive fear and confusion into the hearts of people on the cusp of conversion? Does it mean you should give up your ministry if you find yourself to possess covetous thoughts? Does calling something a sin make you more like Jesus?

  11. That is my point about Osteen. While I understand he is not necessarily a “confrontational” person, but when someone who seems to be somewhat learned, does not take the time to pick up a book and learn of the issues, specifically homosexuality because he HAS TO KNOW he’s going to be asked about it, that concerns me. He fears man and not God. Its a shame that again he politely skirts the issue while Mr. Morgan stood strong in his defense of people being “born that way.”

  12. I think its important to note that Christianity is not a monolithic idea. There is tremendous theological diversity within it. I sense much disappointed with Olsteen’s exegesis. Who’s to say he doesn’t rightly divide the word,and others are in error? Thats raises a significant theological quagmire: How can anyone be assured there interpretation is “sound” when everything about faith requires an introspective, analytical, proccess – Yes – even following every-word-that-proceeds-from-the-mouth-of-Christ Jesus requires you use your brain. I would venture to guess that (a) loves Christ, and (b) feels he is upholding a biblically sound “worldview”. After all, he made it clear he believes that “Homosexulaity is not God’s best”.

  13. People can go ahead and make excuses for Benny Hinn if they want to, but those of us with our discernment turned on can read this man from a mile away. Joel Osteen is not only a coward morally, but is very shallow doctrinally and theologically.

    Over the past few days, I’ve viewed a lot of reader comments on several website articles regarding this recent interview, and I’ve noticed that even many NON-church folks feel like his approach (I dont know, I dont judge, I dont understand) comes across as evasive and even a bit shady. Now when even unsaved folks are calling you out like that, that tells you something!
    If you’re a true man of God you are going to step on some toes sometimes. That’s just a fact. We can just look at the many biblical examples of Jesus, John the Baptist, Paul, Jeremiah and multiple old testament prophets…. they stepped on toes lots of times for the cause of righteousness, and didn’t care if it offended, because the hardcore truth is always going to offend someone, somewhere. On the other hand, Osteen has made it a point to try to 1/ be vague when answering questions regarding moral rights and wrongs 2/ when finally speaking definitively regarding sin, always soften the answer so as not to offend too many folks who might have a problem with it. Thus, Osteen comes across as a man who is more concerned with being liked and accepted than with pulling people out of the fires of hell. (When was the last time Osteen even mentioned the word “hell” anyway”?)

    And this man’s lack of biblical depth is another equally disturbing issue. For a man who’s been pastoring for 14 years, and who speaks to a TV audience of 7-10 million people per week, his lack of biblical conviction and/or theological depth is just stupefying. Every time I see this man on TV he sounds more like a motivation speaker than a true man of God, the kind of oracle of God’s truth that we need in these last days. What’s equally perplexing to me (but not really surprising, I suppose) is that 40,000+ people look to this man as their “shepherd”, despite his obvious shallowness. And please, don’t bother throwing scripture at me about “Jesus said judge not lest ye be judged”, etc. I know that scripture very well. And I know that Jesus also said “by their fruits you shall know them”… and Joel Osteen has been producing some rotten fruit for quite a few years now.

  14. Samson, I think we are getting into emtionalism on that. If the social or cultural implications become an issue to a Pastor when dealing with sin he ought not to be a Pastor. Joel Osteen is not fit to Pastor anyone for he always “doesnt know”. Jesus always said “have you not read”.

    To answer your question, I believe he couldve answered the question as Piers Morgan kept going back to it. Instead of saying “I dont know” and “I am not the judge” and all of that nonsense he couldve given some scriptural references and it could have been done in love.

    He conducts himself like a coward and a man pleaser.

  15. Maybe Osteen just needs to turn down all requests to appear on television talk shows. Wouldnt that solve at least part of the problem? As it is he is only creating a bigger problem by spreading confusion.

    SN: Victoria seems to be much more “stronger” and aggressive than he. I wonder if he is a type of man married to a domineering woman thus emasculating him in a sense. Classic Jezebel and Ahab spiritual issue.

  16. Pastor,

    i must tell you EMPHATICALLY that several years ago, having a conversation w/my wife, I told her that I believed that Osteen was being managed by his wife. So I want to say its amazing that you would say what you’ve said.

  17. Osteen says he doesn’t want to be negative or criticize anybody? I wonder if he’s ever read this:

    34″Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35For I have come to turn

    ” `a man against his father,
    a daughter against her mother,
    a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law–
    36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’

    37″Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
    Matthew 10:34-39

  18. For real, in every interview I have seen his wife has been much more direct in her answers, although trying to smooth over his waffling.

  19. Tony, yes thats been something I have noticed every since he has ventured out into these disastrous public forays. Remember when she had that airline rage incident in Houston? That’s what convinced me that she is a boogah bear. In one sense I almost wish she would do all the talking because as someone noted she seems much more confident when she talks, but I sense that she is trying to “fix” his answers when she is with him.

  20. Joel Osteen is the classic prototypical hireling if I’ve ever seen one. He is very similar to another coward manpleaser name T.D. Jakes. The problem is not whether or not these dudes know what the word of God says concerning homosexuality. Its that when they are questioned in front of a lot of potential members and money givers to their church, they all of a sudden go stupid. This is not by accident, its definitely by design.

    Don’t be fooled, or like Jesus said “Do not be deceived……”

  21. Paul N & Observer, bring up some very valid points when it comes to representing to a captive audience to be ready.

    And it’s all too apparent that the wife seems to wear the pants in this relationship, with her all too ready to answer for him when he gets in a tight.

  22. The homosexual movement quickly threw him under the bus even though he didn’t speak out against the now lesbian mayor of houston. God told me after I prayed about that election that pastor Osteen would have had a significant inpart on the election had he just spoken against homosexuality.

    If fact he even invited her and her partner to a party or whatever that was.

  23. I have always called Mr.Olsten the feel good preacher. He always starts out with a little joke as he calls it. I have never felt like I have heard a sermon.. just smiles and spouts out some nonsense about his father mostly is all I’ve heard. I stopped watching him and t. D. Jake’s years ago. If your not rocking anyone’s boat your not preaching my heavenly fathers word..I have had my toes stepped on more than I can count from true men of God. And have been a better person for it. Can’t say that from those birds. And there are many more just like them..

  24. Pastor Foster:

    You said:
    ” Victoria seems to be much more “stronger” and aggressive than he. I wonder if he is a type of man married to a domineering woman thus emasculating him in a sense. Classic Jezebel and Ahab spiritual issue.”
    And others have also commented on the fact that she appears to be much more emphatic and clear in her responses to questions raised in various interviews than her husband. I would think that this would be applauded especially since many are dissatisfied with Joel’s answers. But, instead, she’s accused of being Jezebel, domineering, and emasculating? And simply based on these interview appearances?
    Should she not express her opinion and what she believes is biblical and right? Is she domineering because she has stronger convictions than her husband?

  25. Cici, have you read the story of Ahab and Jezebel? If so, would you congratuale jezebel for “speaking her mind” and fixing things when her husband acted like a wimp?

    I didnt say I agreed with Victoria’s answers (thats another story) but that she seemed much more aggressive than he. That’s my link the the J and A story.

  26. Pastor Foster,
    Yes, I’m very familiar with Ahab and Jezebel as the story is told in the Bible. And, of course I would not applaud Jezebel for her intent was evil and her motive was the promotion of wickedness. But perhaps in this case Victoria Osteen is trying to be “supportive” of her husband and clarify what she thinks he intends to say since she is his wife – giving her the benefit of the doubt in this instance. But, I really “have no dog in this fight” and cannot speak with any hint of authority on this particular issue with the Osteens because I must confess that I can’t bear to watch them on the various shows that they have appeared on. I am only making my comments based on the descriptions of what occurred given here by you and the others commenting.

    So, leaving the Osteens circumstance in particular and branching out into a more braod area, do you think that because a woman is more “aggressive” than her husband that she is automatically a “Jezebel”?

    Please know that I am in no way attempting to start an argument or unfriendly debate, just wondering about your thoughts on the subject – so I mean no offense.

  27. CiCi thats quite all right. You are free to express your perspective whether you agree or disagree.

    The reason Im not giving her the benefit of the doubt is not defined/limited only by what I mention in this post. Like you, I have major theological issues with the Osteens and frankly do not watch their TV appearances. However if she were in disagreement with him, she is nonetheless benefitting from his continuous compromise on homosexuality. Its just odd that she seems to try to fix his answers when they are on together as if she knows he is perceived as weak. Then again maybe she is doing what a good wife should do, take up for your husband no matter what.

    I would caution you not to broaden my words to “women”. I applied that to her. This is not necessarily about women as it is about a spirit. Jezebel dominated Ahab and their union was one of switched gender roles (spiritually). That’s my applied perspective. I will say that I have known numerous couples where the woman was dominant and aggressive and the husband passive. And yes such relationships generally are ones where the man is emasculated.

    I cant answer for other commenters, so I’ll leave that to them.

  28. @Cici
    CiCi, I would say that I would not want mt wife to do what she is doing for it makes him look rather weak and silly. He is the PASTOR of the biggest church in the US and he cannot even do a decent interview without “um”, “ah” and his favorite “I dont know”.

    Aggressive or not, it cannot be good to have your husband looking like a mouse on national TV while he takes cover under you skirt tail.

  29. Is the correct term being used for VO assertive vs aggressive? Many confuse these two words as they have very different meanings. One means to desire/take/compete for full control whereas the other is having the ability to speak truth or articulate truth. I was mistakenly labeled aggressive by my sister…my husband is very meek unless a situation hits him where it matters. I explained to her that she was confusing the two words and for her to look up the definitions. She later called me back to say I was right…..I will not at all cost run over, or compete with someone for egocentric or self-gain reasons however, I will assert my thoughts or feelings when it calls for it. I believe all pastors and/or ministers have a particular type of ministry..some fire/brimestone/fear ministries some love/acceptance ministries to name a few…as long as the truth isn’t being compromised…an individuals personality will flow through their ministry…Joel seems to have the gift of love….but it must be coupled with truth if it is from God. I’ve attend churches where the pastor preached truth however, there was disunity and lack of love in that church. God word must be at the head of all ministries or there will be defeciencies.

  30. We as Christians are called to love…all souls. Does this mean we accept sin…..absolutely not. Maybe Joel is having problems with distinguishing between the two. Sin is sin…that goes to myself first….God hates it…we are called to hate it…but we can not throw people away except they refuse truth. We yet pray for their soul and move on to those who are crying out for the true and living God to come in and save all of their soul. Can one be saved yet struggle with homosexuality? Are we saved by our works or grace….are homosexuals saved if they in fact believe that Christ died on the cross for them….yet they struggle with sexual strongholds….I guess maybe if they desire to be freed from it….but yet struggle with deliverance…giving it up…..rather than claim God made them that way. I have homo relatives and I LOVE them…I simply don’t agree with their chosen lifestyle. We as Christian must seperate the act from the soul….of which God loves. What does the bible say about liars and adulterers? The lake of fire awaits them as well.

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